The Dark is a quarterly magazine of dark fantasy and science fiction. The August 2014 issue features original short stories from Stephen Graham Jones, Octavia Cade, Emily B. Cataneo, and Darja Malcolm-Clarke.
The first thing that struck me about this issue was the stunning cover, Stygian Darkness by artist Timothy Lantz.
The image of a ferryman crossing a strange river to guide us into unknown territory was a perfect metaphor for this collection of stories. I was pleased to find tales that did not flow straight down any well charted river of horror, fantasy or science fiction. These short stories kept me guessing, with intriguing sights and surprises around every bend.
When Swords Had Names by Stephen Graham Jones continued the thrust of the cover art, taking the reader on a tour of the twilight edge between history and myth, civilization and nature. This unpredictable story had its hooks in me from the first paragraph.
Tommy Flowers and the Glass Bells of Bletchley by Octavia Cade was another dizzying blend, injecting magical realism and emotion into the desperate scientific struggle of World War 2.
Not the Grand Duke’s Dancer by Emily B. Cataneo pirouettes through the industrial age and the dawn of spiritualism into a richly imagined and original fantasy. The push and pull of a love that defies death provides a beautiful calm inside this whirlwind of tale.
A Fairy Tale Life by Darja Malcolm-Clarke brings the promise and peril of fairy tales into the near future. Old wounds and new technology combine in surprising ways to force the main character to come to grips with his own story.
Co-editors Jack Fisher and Sean Wallace did a fine job curating this issue, and I look forward to seeing what unknown borders they will guide us through next time.